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Scott's suicidal but I couldn't be happier; River City star Tony Kearney was delighted to get a meatier role in the hit soap, writes Paul English.

With a bottle of vodka in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other, River City star Tony Kearney couldn't have been happier.

Having shot to fame playing happy-go-lucky Tall Ship barman Scott Wallace, the 34-year-old was delighted when he learned his character wanted to end his anguish.

But Tony had no idea how hard it would be to attempt suicide for the cameras.

Sipping a coffee in a cafe in Glasgow's West End, he said: "I've had so much to get my teeth into recently. It's been great. Scott's had to deal with the relationship with Eddie and their break-up. As much as I love doing the witty one-liners, the meaty stuff keeps you on your toes as an actor."

And meaty it most certainly is. This week, Tony tackles his most serious storyline yet - suicide. The script is beautifully written," he says. "Scott's been really down for weeks.

"He feels totally dejected, really down and isolated. Part of his back-story is that he's come from the islands to Glasgow because his family rejected him for being gay.

"He's felt isolated since he found out about Eddie's family and has gone way down.

"He finally decides that his only way out is if he's not here anymore. Once he makes that decision he turns from being really low to being happy. It's apparently common.

"He figures he won't be here anymore and that will be the end of his problem."

Tony might have relished the prospect of getting his teeth into a meaty role - but filming the bleak scenes drained him.

"It's a horrible subject matter, and there is a certain responsibility for me to handle it well," he says. "Scott takes the pills with a bottle of vodka while looking at a picture of Eddie. Everything went quiet on set - it was horrible, actually. I didn't like that part at all."

Tony also has responsibility as the only gay character in the soap, although he says he doesn't see it that way.

"It just happens to be a part of Scott's personality," he says. "I don't want to be seen as just the token gay character in Shieldinch. I'd hope I was seen as a more rounded character than that Besides, I think Scott being gay has been subtly handled.

"People saw his relationship with Eddie as a love story rather than a gay story."

Tony's been acting professionally from a young age, first appearing on-screen alongside Doctor Who star David Tennant in kids' series Dramarama 18 years ago.

Since then, he's gone on to star in the Gaelic soap Machair, studying for an arts degree at Glasgow University all the while. Tony's also done numerous radio plays, and he'll soon be back as one of the voices in BBC Scotland's off-beat Colin & Cumberland- the animated mini-series which teaches non-Gaelic speakers about the language.

"I love Colin & Cumberland," he says. "I'm in stitches whenever I do the voiceovers. The scripts are brilliant and I think the humour is quite adult.

"It's not for Gaelic speakers at all though. It's all in English."

With River City filming again after the winter break, Tony's days are busy. And he's constantly reminded of his high profile.

"I met a guy at New Year in a pub in Campeltown who called me the Chris Evans of the Western Isles," he says.

"That's some thing I'd never been called that before.

"I'd be the first person to tell you I've been very lucky. I did the first scene when River City started, and it now has such a dedicated following. I'm really happy where I am, it's a great feeling."


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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 18, 2006
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